Is manipulating food and its production is morally acceptable during wartime?

That’s what students from St. Joseph High School and Trumbull High School will debate at the 5th annual kick-off to the Trumbull Library’s One Book, One Town program.

Moderator Judge T.R. Rowe along with members of the Yale Debate Club will determine the winner between these high school, which are led by advisors Jeff Tyrell and Hope Spalla.

THS students will be arguing the affirmative side during the matchup.

Seniors Ben Hazen, Mike Kenler, and Arvind Sureshbabu all return after last year’s debate, with first-time senior Nikaash Pasnoori anchoring the Trumbull team.

Spalla, an English teacher at Trumbull High School, has been advising the THS Debate Team for the last 4 years and said it has been a very rewarding experience.  

The THS Debate Team continues to be a strong competitor in the Connecticut Debate Association circuit.

“We compete each month across the state of Connecticut,” Spalla said. “Our team has grown to over 30 members and is comprised of 55% females and 45% males.”

For the second year in a row, the Trumbull High Debate Team has hosted the January tournament. This year, over 200 teens from across the state competed at THS in January.  

Five Trumbull High students will be competing at the state finals on April 2 at Wilton High School.

Negative side

St. Joseph High School debates will be taking on the negative side of the resolution.

Team members include returning seniors Ralph Rotondo, Edward Szalan, and Alexander Giannico, with first-time freshman Augustus LeRoux rounding out the St. Joes team.

The SJHS debate team has been debating in the Connecticut Debate Association circuit for the last two years and has participated in the One Book, One Town debate since 2012 .  

“Our membership increases each year by 4 to 5 students,” said Tyrell, a social studies teacher at Joes who has been coaching the debate team since the 2009-2010 school year.

The book

The resolution is based on wartime issues found in this year’s title, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.

The ambitious novel is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.  

Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, the author illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.    

The debate starts a month-long of activities at the Trumbull Library.

It will be held in the main community room and is set to start at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 2.  

For information the more than 15 One Book - One Town programs visit: or #OBOT16